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Paratroopers land at Kamiri airstrip on Noemfoor Island on July 3, 1944, part of an operation called “Table Tennis.” The small island was part of Dutch New Guinea (now part of Indonesia); in June 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered his forces to take the Japanese-occupied island and its three airstrips to provide support for the attacks on the island of Biak, to the east.

After more than a week of aerial attacks dropped 800 tons of bombs, the invasion kicked off with a naval bombardment on July 2 followed by landings of U.S. troops at the northern end of the island, near the Kamiri airstrip. The next day 739 paratroopers of the 1st Battalion of the 503rd Parachute Infantry bailed out over the strip.

“Several planes flew in too low, resulting in 72 casualties, many of them severe fracture cases,” wrote Samuel Eliot Morison in his history of U.S. naval operations during the war. “Next day the 3rd Battalion flew in and bailed out, with 56 casualties resulting. Nine percent casualties were several times as much as the paratroops could afford to take, so it was arranged to have the 2nd Battalion ride into Noemfoor on LCIs.” Japanese resistance was low overall, and the operation was essentially over by July 5.

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